Trends, tastings & tipples at The Restaurant Show


Each year in early October the The Restaurant Show takes place, with The Bar & Pub Show running alongside it (as well as Conscious Hospitality and the Catering Equipment Expo). These are trade events for the hospitality sector and I’m lucky enough to get to work on them. I say lucky, because although it’s hard work, it’s also amazing seeing and trying some of the latest food & drink trends. It’s a full on few days but I always come away excited about what I’ve seen and tasted. Here are a few of my favourite finds…

Poetic License Distillery


Only 1000 bottles of the Elderflower & Gooseberry Gin are made, so it was a treat to try a little sip at The Bar & Pub Show. I tried it neat at 10.30 in the morning – that’s how committed I am to the cause! A lovely gin that I hope to see in pubs and bars soon.

Masons Yorkshire Gin


Sticking with the Gin, I was also thrilled to discover one which combined my other passion in life…tea! Yes, Masons Gin add loose leaf Yorkshire Tea (around 4KG of it!) during the production process to get this uniquely refreshing gin. I was a little bit more sensible and sampled this with some Fever Tree tonic – I can’t wait try some again soon!

Sorvinesse – The Wine Sorbet Company


Savignon Blanc Sorbet anyone? Yes that’s right a sorbet made with real wine, just a little so that it can still freeze. A little wine is all that’s needed, these taste just like wine but a fraction sweeter. Available in both red and white wine – these wine sorbets are a UK first! I highly recommend Sorvinesse to restaurant owners, wine sorbets would make a lovely light way to end a meal.



It’s not all about booze, I absolutely loved Botinique – a soft drink for wine lovers. It’s fair to say I’m not a soft drinks fan, I tend to see them as just pointless sugar…If I’m not drinking I’ll just have water. However, Botonique has totally changed my opinion here. It was complex and refreshing and serving it in champagne flutes, has sophisticated, enjoyable feel. I could see myself switching to it during a night out. It was created by a wine connoisseur, who didn’t enjoy soft drinks either but knew she needed to cut down a little on the wine. It’s been described ‘a soft drink with all the pleasure of wine’. I really hope pubs and restaurants start stocking up on this, it’s a great concept and very enjoyable.

Isigny Sainte-Mere


I always love the stand from Isigny Sainte-Mère, a French brand consisting of two complementary dairy cooperatives. It’s absolute cheese heaven and I was delighted to come across a fondue cheese, which is actually a blend of three different cheeses! It’s sure to make the perfect fondue! I am certainly fond of fondue, it’s not something you see much of in UK restaurants but it’s firm favourite on a ski trip.



I sampled Y3K’s delicious Cookie Mousse Cake, a real American indulgence! It’s made with America’s two favourite cookies – chocolate chip and Oreo – I can see this being a hit in casual dining chains and family friendly restaurants. Yum!

Pel Waste – Baby Jaws Glass Crusher


This is an ingenious, compact glass crusher that can reduce glass waste by up to 80%. This is obviously meant for the bars and pubs – but with the amount of wine we get through in my household I could really do with this at home!

Aperol Spritz – by Campari


Aperol has obviously been around for a while, but it certainly seems to be enjoying a moment right now. On my recent trip to Sardinia, literally everyone was drinking it every night it the hotel bar. I’m seeing Aperol Spritz on more and more UK drinks menus too. Their stand at The Bar & Pub Show was a bright bold orange display, that you just couldn’t miss. Cheers to them for their amazing stand and fab free samples!

These were just a few of the brilliant finds and foodie brands I got the chance to chat to at the show – for more check out the shows’ Twitter feeds @barpubshow and @restaurantshow or browse exhibitors on the show websites. If you’re in the industry, I highly recommend a visit next year!



The Afternoon Tea Awards

I was lucky enough to attend second annual Afternoon Tea Awards at  London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, thanks to the event’s fabulous sponsors, luxury tea company, Newby Teas.

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As if that wasn’t exciting enough the awards were presented by author and star baker, Martha Collison and hosted by (a brilliant website for afternoon tea recommendations).

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Newby Teas welcomed us with gorgeous tea-filled goody bags and a chance to sample all their blends. There were also bubbles from Lanson and of course, some delicious afternoon tea treats. I think it’s fair to say it was certainly the best awards ceremony I’ve ever been too!

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The awards are set up to recognise the best in afternoon tea and tea service, from some of the UK’s best hotels and restaurants. A team of expert judges anonymously call in for afternoon tea and look at all aspects of the experience for each prestigious venue (how can I get this job?!).

So, where are the best of the best places to enjoy tea and cake?

Afternoon Tea Award Winners 2017

  • Best Traditional Afternoon Tea – Hotel Café Royal
  • Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea – Mirror Room at Rosewood London
  • Best Themed Afternoon Tea – Churchill Afternoon Tea at The Wellesley
  • Best Children’s Afternoon Tea – Millennium Hotel London Mayfair
  • Best Tea Service – Fortnum & Mason

There were also several venues who received a highly commended accolade, including local hotel Lainston House (see the full list here).

Newby Teas

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The team at Newby Teas are no stranger to awards themselves, they actually have over 100 awards, making them the world’s most-awarded international brand in high-end luxury tea. So naturally, I was keen to try their range and I’ve steadily been working my way through the goody bag. I have to say I am loving Newby Teas’ Milk Oolong blend, which is a yellow green in colour with a natural sweetness and creamy aroma of caramel. I’m also enjoying the green tea and earl grey blends.

Thank you to Newby Teas for the invite to the awards and to for putting on such a fabulous event.

***All the fabulous photos in this post were supplied by***


Two Tea Treats

FoodTeaLife’s been a little quiet lately, mostly thanks to a holiday diet and denying myself the pleasures cheese and wine far too much. However, there have been a few indulges to brighten the diet days – you’ve got to have things to look forward to after all.

First up was a fabulous afternoon tea in London at The Berkeley, a real girly treat. Named Prêt-à-Portea, it’s something of an unique twist on the traditional afternoon tea, with all the cakes and treats inspired by designer fashion and the latest trends. It was a colourful affair, reflecting the Spring/Summer 14 season’s designer collections with cakes and biscuits in the shape of shoes and bags and colours straight off the catwalk. It was delicious too, from the delicate sandwiches to the chocolate shoes – I ate a lot of fashion themed treats that afternoon!

afternoon tea the berkeley

Beautiful fashion inspired treats – thanks to Aminah for the image

The staff at The Berkeley were wonderful too, taking the time to explain the fashion inspiration behind every sweet treat and bringing more of anything you wanted! I haven’t even started on the tea yet (which there was unlimited supply of!). I sipped earl grey and later moved on to a delicate fresh mint tea. My companions however enjoyed a caramel tea and a ginger tea – there were plenty more interesting blends too. Even the coffee was fabulous too.

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

I must say a huge thanks to Aminah for organising such a wonderfully decadent girly get-together and for the beautiful photos! It certainly was an occasion to remember.

Treat number two was a little more local, a special pre-birthday indulgence with my mum and sister at The Winchester Hotel and Spa. I was treated to a manicure, something I’ve never actually had before. I was delighted with the results – I’m loving my elegantly coloured nails! Let’s see how long I can keep them chip free for.

We followed our beauty treats with a foodie treat, a cream tea! And what a spectacularly generous cream tea it was, we got far more that simply scones and tea…

Tea at the Winchester Hotel & Spa

My wonderful birthday treat at The Winchester Hotel & Spa

There were rhubarb pastries, strawberries, miniature éclairs and more. It was a real feast and we enjoyed it sipping earl grey outside in the sunshine. Perfect weather and the best company – probably the best Sunday ever I’d say! A massive thank you of epic proportions goes to my sister and mum for this special treat.

Feeling very lucky right now (and full of cake).


Food Art

I’m working with someone who creates beautiful cakes at the moment and it’s really got me thinking about food as art. From Latte Art Championships for Baristas to the delightful culinary artworks of Ida Frosk (she’s amazing!) – food is an art medium all of its own.

Here are some fabulous cakes I snapped at a recent visit to the trade show Hotelympia (terrible photography as usual from me)…


Best wedding cake ever! Pirate themed perfection.


Truly a work of art!

Truly a work of art!

Another beautiful cake, I love the cherry blossom detail

Another beautiful cake, I love the cherry blossom detail

Pretty amazing aren’t they?! And to think, I’m usually just happy if I dish I’ve created turns out vaguely looking like it does in the recipe picture! That doesn’t happen all that often. However, all the inspirational food art I’ve seen lately has got me thinking I just might start working on my food presentation a little more where I can. After all we do so often eat with our eyes first don’t we? I doubt I’ll be creating anything you could call a work of art any time soon though. So…if you have any special food presentation tips, do share them with me!



Last weekend’s foodie highlights

Well, the title says it all really…

Last Friday night’s visit to the Chesil Rectory was a lovely last minute treat. The menu was great, just look at these yummy starters…


Portland Crab, Secrett’s Beetroots, Avocado, Mayonnaise         


Treacle Cured Salmon, Brixham Scallop, Pickled Ginger

And of course there’s the beautiful Cottonworth rose to enjoy when at the Chesil Rectory. This English sparkling wine is every bit as lovely as something like a Laurent Perrier Rose. It’s local too, if you haven’t tried it already, it’s a must! You can also get it from Wine Utopia in Winchester.


On Saturday I ate at an old favorite that never disappoints, The Bugle Inn, Twyford. The tasty bacon chop on their menu at the moment is highly recommended! It comes served on a bed of bubble and squeak with a poached egg on top and some gorgeous cauliflower cheese – it was heavenly and certainly very filling! No pictures due to me being a greedy guts and scoffing it all without thinking of my blog!

You wouldn’t think I could eat more food in one weekend…but I did. To celebrate my dad’s Birthday a fabulous family party tea was put on at home. Featuring afternoon tea, triangle sandwiches, my sister’s yummy mocha cupcakes and a scone or two, it was a fine birthday feast! Here’s a snapshot…

Definitely a few fast days need this week after a full on weekend of food, glorious food!


Belated Black White Red Post

Black White Red is new(ish) to Winchester, however I can’t pretend I’m bringing you brand new exciting news here as every time I set foot in the place I see someone I know! So word has definitely already spread about how good it is. I have always said that FoodTeaLife is my place to talk about the things I love though, so Black White Red is getting a brief blog post anyway!

Even before eating there I’d heard rave reviews about the food… ‘best brownie ever’, great for lunch, lovely brunch, ‘amazing eggs’.


Happily I wasn’t disappointed when I tried a flapjack on my second visit…lovely gooey deliciousness…


Tea fans will be pleased with the loose leaf tea offering and the coffee was good too. Nice selection of wines as well, I hope to be able to sample some more soon!

What can I say, if you haven’t already been…go! It’s perfect for pre-dinner or theatre drinks but it’s also a great coffee and catch up kind of place. It’s good to have somewhere that caters nicely to both of these occasions.

I’m sure I’ll be visiting again soon, so perhaps I’ll see you there!


Afternoon of Delights at Lainston House

As I hinted in the last FoodTeaLife post my birthday surprise turned out to be afternoon tea at Lainston House Hotel in Sparsholt – a wonderful treat!

I do love a good afternoon tea experience, it’s just so indulgent and befitting of a special occasion – so I’m happy to say that Lainston House did not disappoint on this front! Here are a few snaps from the scrumptious feast…


The adorable crust-cut-off sandwiches even featured a special miniature brioche roll with an egg mayonnaise filling – delicious! The cakes were delightful too, a good selection including this delicate raspberry macaron…


The cake stand’s top tier had an extra surprise…toasted tea cakes as well as scones! Scones are of course the traditional end to afternoon tea but the inclusion of tea cakes made for a nice change. I’m not ashamed to say I scoffed it all! It was excellent.

I haven’t even mentioned the tea yet! There was a nice choice of loose leaf blends, I opted for a strong and malty cup of Assam. The staff at Lainston house were very attentive too, making sure to replenish our hot water regularly.

To top it all off it was was a beautiful day to explore the stunning grounds too…



All in all, a very special birthday! A huge thank you to the best family in the world for such a luxurious treat xXx

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